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Chris Hennes

"Around My French Table" by Dorie Greenspan

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Trolling Amazon.com for new cookbooks that I desperately need I ran across an upcoming release from Dorie Greenspan that sounded like it might be interesting: Around My French Table is set for an October 8, 2010 release. From the publisher's description:

When Julia Child told Dorie Greenspan, “You write recipes just the way I do,” she paid her the ultimate compliment. Julia’s praise was echoed by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, which referred to Dorie’s “wonderfully encouraging voice” and “the sense of a real person who is there to help should you stumble.”

Now in a big, personal, and personable book, Dorie captures all the excitement of French home cooking, sharing disarmingly simple dishes she has gathered over years of living in France. Around My French Table includes many superb renditions of the great classics: a glorious cheese-domed onion soup, a spoon-tender beef daube, and the “top-secret” chocolate mousse recipe that every good Parisian cook knows—but won’t reveal.

Anyone know anything more? Of course I already own Wolfert's definitive "The Cooking of Southwest France" and I'm hoping that this will fit in nicely with that and Mastering the Art. I've had good luck with many of Greenspan's other recipes, but didn't realize she might be an authority on French cuisine.


NOTE: Now that our copies have started to arrive, we are posting about the recipes here!


Edited by Chris Hennes Added note at bottom (log)

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I've seen mention of this book, too, and would be interested in knowing more about the contents--mostly recipes? technique? Truth is, I have a dozen plus cookbooks that cover this territory and I'm reluctant to add others unless they tell me something new. But Dorie has co-authored books with the likes of Daniel Boulud and Pierre Herme, so I have no doubt that she has good recipes and secrets to share.

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Hello and apologies for not jumping into this conversation earlier. Here's a little background on the new book.

There are more than 300 recipes (about 60 are desserts) and they cover the range from little nibbles, Pierre Herme's olive sables, terrific salmon rillettes and gougeres (the duo are my favorites with drinks, to ‘real’ main courses, like beef daube, chicken-in-a-pot (on the book’s cover), lamb tagine with apricots and almonds, vegetable pot-au-feu, linguine with nuts and dried fruit, shrimp with cellophane noodles and Parisian gnocchi. In between, there are soups and salads (there’s a fabulous all-white salad made with mushrooms, celery, apples and a yogurt dressing) and vegetables and first courses of all kinds -- the Tuna-Mozzarella Pizza from Yves Camdeborde of Le Comptoir is great. In short, it’s a soup-to-nuts, as well as a meat and fish and pasta to cake cookbook with lots of stories and about 100 pictures.

The recipes come from my ‘other’ life, the one in France, so it’s the food that I cook at home in Paris and the food my friends cook -- most of it is what I think of as 'elbow-on-the-table food'. There are recipes from all over France, some from chefs at simple bistros, some from people at the markets I love, many from friends and lots and lots from my own kitchen.

The mix of recipes can only be called 'eclectic' -- the word is so overused, but it fits here. There are traditional recipes, for sure (I think the Cheese-Topped Onion Soup is fabulous), but there are lots and lots of modern and very surprising recipes, for example, a Basque tortilla (think frittata or omelet) made with potato chips (this from a Michelin-starred chef); my friend Gerard's Mustard Tart, made with tomatoes in summer and steamed carrots and leeks in winter; a burger with capers, cornichons and sun-dried tomatoes mixed with the beef (it's become my house burger in the States); pork braised with lemongrass and coconut milk; chicken roasted in a Dutch oven (with a piece of bread to serve as the 'plate' for the liver -- the cook's treat); and “cookies” that are rolled out like pie dough, baked in one raggedy-edged piece and then brought to the table that way, so that everyone can break off a hunk. (They're called Salted Butter Break-Ups, although when they were made at a preview lunch at Book Expo somebody called them Salt-Butter Crack!)

And there are the stories ... Stories about the market, about how people eat in France, about how to shop, how to serve cheese and even how to complain and get what you want.

Here's what the book isn't: It's not Escoffier. It's not Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It's not a by-the-rules book. It's not a textbook. It's too personal to be any of those things.

The book as my look at what people are cooking in France today. It's a very personal book, my editor thinks it's my most personal to date.

Thanks so much for being interested in my newest baby. Scream if there's more I can tell you.

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My pre-order just shipped, so I guess the book is out early! Looking forward to seeing what's in there, thanks for the details, Dorie.

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Mine shipped too. I am glad, because after reading Dorie's post it would've been really hard to wait. Olive sables! Tuna pizza! Mustard tart! This is going to be a really good week.

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Dorie, thanks so much for the details. This is definitely not your run-of-the-mill rehash of bistro standards (which I love, but enough...) and it sounds like a good read, too. My copy is ordered, too.

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My copy arrived this morning. I haven't started cooking anything from it yet, so of course these are just some first impressions...

Wow, this book is big. I don't know what I was expecting (I didn't pay any attention to the dimensions on Amazon), but this is definitely not a lightweight. It stands easily two inches taller than Wolfert's The Cooking of Southwest France, and is about the same thickness. It is a very well-bound book. I cannot stand cookbooks that don't stay open to the page I am on when I am cooking, so one that does is always very welcome. It even manages to stay open to the correct page near the beginning and end of the book, which is no small feat. I know that seems like a stupid niggling detail, but I get very frustrated with cookbooks that change the pages for me!

Around my French Table.jpg

Of course the photography is beautiful (done by Alan Richardson), no surprise there. The book feels very much like CIA Pro-Chef in its layout and general stylistic cues. Overall the design is quite nice, if a bit unexpected given the "rustic" feel of the cover design. The actual design of the pages feels very modern to me, while the cover appears to be going for the same sort of aesthetic as Wolfert's book (I keep referencing back to Wolfert because she is my touchstone for French cooking, that's the book I've spent the most time with).

I was surprised at how short the introduction was: just four quick pages and you're into the recipes. Each recipe is led into by two or three paragraphs giving its background, etc. The instructions seem at first glance to be extremely clear, though that's hard to tell for sure just reading through a few recipes.

Overall, it's a gorgeous book, and there seem to be a LOT of promising recipes in here. I guess it's time to get cooking!

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Are the recipes in weights?

Doesn't look like it. You can look inside the book on Amazon.com.

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No weights in the recipes for many publishing-related reasons -- most of them the same as the ones we discussed in the Baking From My Home to Yours thread.

As some of you know, I would love to be able to have all of my recipes appear in volume measures, American weights and metric measures, but it just isn't possible and wasn't possible with AMFT.

That said, I think that the weight issue is less crucial in cooking recipes.

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Am baking the filling for the Mushroom & Shallot Quiche tonight for a party, but using my own pie dough (with a combination duck fat and butter dough). It smells wonderful in the oven right now!

I've been looking through the book and there are so many things I want to start cooking immediately. Eggplants and cherry tomatoes are in full swing right now in Texas, so going to hit the farmers' market tomorrow for the Eggplant Tartine.

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I think I want this.

I've been throwing around the idea with my husband of getting cookbooks that would introduce me to certain types of cooking. Most of the time I've just looked up recipes online or winged it and, while I'm okay at it, I'd like to get away from that for a bit and follow some recipes.

Can anyone tell me if this would be a relatively good introduction to French cooking? I assume so, considering it comes from Dorie. :P

Don't worry, though. I'm picking up Mastering the Art one and two eventually.

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Stephanie, I think that's a tough question to answer. I mean, the recipe instructions are wonderfully detailed, there is no doubt that anyone who puts in the time to read through them will be able to make the dishes successfully. But as Dorie mentions above, this is a very "personal" book. It's not a big-picture overview of French Cuisine, or any sort of attempt to teach you the basics of the French kitchen. It's a recipe collection from an accomplished cook and cookbook author living in France.

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Dorie - the Mushroom & Shallot tart was really good! Said a friend at the party, "I think you need to bring me savory pies like this all the time."

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i was first in line for the library's copy. since i don't own it i copy out my recipes - there are 18 that i want to "own". i think the most fun for me, though, were the stories about each of the recipes and the other essays - mashed potatoes, beets, cheese, boeuf a la ficelle, "complaining" in the nicest way about a cheese that wasn't quite ripe, etc. the writing was some of the best in general and definitely some of the best food writing i've read...and i've been a librarian for 30 years.

yesterday, during a food shop mainly for nonperishables, farina and golden raisins got added to my list so i can try the caramel-topped semolina cake sometime this week. sent the husband in with a side order of anne leblanc's pistachio avocado. unfortunately the local store didn't have avocado oil so i subbed some walnut oil. the pistachio oil is ordered, though.

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I just picked up a copy of this lovely book! Could not resist and with a 40% off coupon and $10 in Borders Cash I only spent $15, can't beat that!

There's a little note inserted with an error correction. In case you did not get that note, here it is:

"In the recipe for Speculoos on page 406, one large egg, at room temperature, was mistakenly omitted. Beat it into the butter-sugar mixture."

Nice touch that the publisher put that note into the book!!

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I want, want, want this book, but I'm living frugally right now, so I can't buy my own copy. I've been scouting out the library, hoping to be first to reserve it for when it comes in, but can you believe it. . .despite checking the online catalogue daily, when it finally came up, I ended up 12th in line!! That means I still won't get it till about two months after the library receives it! (which also won't be for a couple of months)

Despite that, I've purchased a red kuri squash in anticipation of making Beatrix's Red Kuri Soup. Hopefully it will keep for a few months. . . :biggrin:

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